Force India: Safety car compromises strategy

2011 Japanese GP team review

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Force India paid the price of not splitting their strategies as the safety car disadvantaged both their drivers.

Adrian SutilPaul di Resta
Qualifying position1112
Qualifying time comparison (Q2)1’32.463 (-0.283)1’32.746
Race position1112
Pit stops33

Force India drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):

Adrian Sutil107.614102.01101.739101.697101.896101.701102.171105.303121.238100.956101.188101102.417101.163100.949101.149100.943101.638101.42101.651101.793101.736104.577138.371125.38117.835149.055102.931100.875100.38199.03799.07399.30499.61899.722100.435102.79117.13498.60398.62598.88899.31898.13398.39599.23499.10199.01398.825101.18199.799.22299.659100.087
Paul di Resta106.673102.476101.75101.614101.673101.817101.953101.962102.563105.607120.606103.852101.988101.63101.086100.958101.12101.046101.454102.904101.637101.903102.16118.986141.157118.436149.144102.049100.08599.78899.45899.25699.38499.474101.478117.68399.926100.26499.96499.30199.25799.09797.97100.17899.687102.09899.81399.483100.02100.134100.409100.545100.797

Adrian Sutil

Start tyreSoft
Pit stop 1Soft 21.511s
Pit stop 2Soft 21.337s
Pit stop 3Medium 21.839s

Sutil was disappointed to miss out on the top ten in qualifying. He made amends for that at the start, moving up into ninth place.

He was among the first group of drivers to pit, coming in on lap eight, two laps before Di Resta and jumping his team mate in the process. But they swapped plaes again at the next round of stops – Sutil coming in on lap 23, di Resta a lap later under the safety car.

Both now on medium tyres, they struggled to hold onto their places in the top ten. Sutil made progress at first: passing di Resta on lap 44 and the lap after that he bravely dived down the inside of Kamui Kobayashi as they hurtled into 130R.

But like his team mate he eventually succumbed to the attacks of Vitaly Petrov and Nico Rosberg, who took him together on lap 49.

Sutil said the team were “unlucky” not to score points: “In terms of strategy we had to go for three stops because the degradation was so high. For a while it looked like ninth was possible, but in the end we lost out to the cars making two stops who had the benefit of soft tyres at the end of the race.”

Adrian Sutil 2011 form guide

Paul di Resta

Paul di Resta, Force India, Suzuka, 2011
Start tyreSoft
Pit stop 1Soft 21.964s
Pit stop 2Soft 21.9641s
Pit stop 3Medium 21.553s

Di Resta took 12th on the grid behind his team mate despite feeling unwell.

He then capitalised on Kamui Kobayashi’s slow start, swinging around the Sauber plus his team mate and both Renaults to take eighth place.

Running the same strategy as his team mate, Di Resta was similarly disadvantaged by the safety car: “[it] spoilt our strategy because that was our fastest part of the race and it was important to try and pull a gap. It helped the cars making two stops because they caught us in the final laps and it was very hard to defend.”

After the restart di Resta was passed by his team mate. Petrov also took him at the start of lap 46 using DRS. The Renault driver then ran wide at Dunlop, holding di Resta up, allowing Rosberg to pass him as well.

He finished eight seconds behind his team mate in 12th meaning both finished where they started.

Paul di Resta 2011 form guide

Nico Hulkenberg

Drove Adrian Sutil’s car in first practice.

2011 Japanese Grand Prix

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    Image © Force India F1 Team

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    14 comments on “Force India: Safety car compromises strategy”

    1. I really enjoyed Sutil’s overtake on Kobayashi it seemed like the old Sutil I liked to watch in the past had returned. Hope he finishes a season on a high. Although I also want Di Resta to beat him so he can cement his place in F1.

      1. @ sallicedj I wouldn’t worry about that. Di Resta will be around for a few years yet, his carer best 6th was only in Singapore which is a particularly punishing track.

    2. i wonder was that safety car really necessary at that point, if so, why did it take so long to clear the debris.

      1. there was debris on the dunlop curve which is a blind fast corner. all the cars were spead out around the track at that point too.

        but i personally think Whiting was letting Kobayashi and some others at the back catch up with the safety car train. (some of them were quite far back due to pitting when the safey car came out.

        1. anyway FI strategy got compromised because of that, and lost their advt to sauber who were on two stop strategy.

      2. I think it took almost 2 laps to get everyone to fall in line behind the SC, then one lap to clear the bits and pieces and it went in the next lap.

        More bizare was, that the debris had been on track for some 5 laps at least before they decided on the SC to get rid of it.

    3. Force India, apparantly, has the potential to become de next big “independent” team, à La Red Bull. Their relationship with McLaren is not fully maximized, maybe more money from Vijay would help.

    4. I thought Di Resta did a brilliant job, considering it was a track he hadn’t raced on, and he was unwell.

    5. I thought that at the time, good to see the data supports it.

      I hope they retain Di Resta, given a bit more of a chance I reckon he could be right up there with the best. I don’t think its just hype by the British media.

    6. Realistically 5th place in the standings is all Renault’s to lose, as they showed going back to normal pace in Suzuka, and Force India will need to score incredible results to beat them.
      Di Resta and Sutil were very closely matched, which is a thing I like to see, and I’d like to see it more at Ferrari ;)

    7. @jcost Sorry to bring it up, but check out the Comment of the Day on this article…

      I do hope they pull it together. They had a pretty die 2010 but the seasons either side of that are much better.

    8. Tough luck for them,seems like they will both finish in the points but the SC today have spoiled many people’s strategy.

    9. How could a 3-stop strategy have a tyre disadvantage over a 2-stop strategy?

      “For a while it looked like ninth was possible, but in the end we lost out to the cars making two stops who had the benefit of soft tyres at the end of the race.”

      Did they have the wrong tyres at the end of the race because they (unfortunately) just stopped before the safety car? But then why didn’t Di Resta switch to the harder tyre in his pitstop during the safety-car phase?

    10. Another great race from di Resta, especially impressive considering he was ill. Sutil was ok but lost out due to circumstance.

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